Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity
“Ranks of Prayer” first appeared in the Spring 1993 issue of Touchstone.
Ranks of Prayer
“Prayer is the primary work of the moral and religious life,” wrote St. Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894). Theophan, once a bishop who retreated into the Russian wilderness to live as a hermit, spent hours each day giving spiritual advice in letters. This spiritual “Dear Abby” was particularly known for his writings on prayer.
Theophan argues that prayer is a barometer of our relationship with God. It is the essence of our spiritual life. Communication with God, just like communication with others, forms the foundation of our relationships.
The first of these three people is too preoccupied with himself to allow his faith to take hold of his life. The second tries hard, probably appears to be pious, but falls short. The third succeeds.
Of what rank are our prayers?
“The root of this life is a free and conscious relationship with God, which then directs everything.”
Quotes from The Art of Prayer—An Orthodox Anthology by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, translated by E. Kadoubovsky & E. M. Palmer, London: Faber & Faber, 1966, pp. 61-62.
Thomas S. Buchanan is a member of the Orthodox Church and lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and three children.
“Ranks of Prayer” first appeared in the Spring 1993 issue of Touchstone. If you enjoyed this article, you'll find more of the same in every issue.
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